Remedial course legislation

by Sarah Barker, University student

I entered the University of Minnesota with an entire semester’s worth of AP credits, and it still took careful planning during class registration to ensure that I would graduate on time.

The University accepted me assuming I was prepared for college-level work. Students whose K-12 schools didn’t have the resources for college preparation often turn to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which operates under open enrollment. Students in this situation — disproportionately students of color and low-income students — often must pay for non-credit-bearing remedial courses that almost guarantee that they will graduate late and in overwhelming debt.

The national nonprofit Students for Education Reform, which has a chapter at the University, is partnering with SFER chapters in the MnSCU system to make college more financially feasible for all Minnesota students.

We are advocating for legislation at the state Capitol that will have MnSCU schools replace some remedial courses with co-requisite courses. Co-requisites are credit-bearing, and they work by reinforcing foundational skills while also covering college-level work.

While usually focused on K-12 education reform, SFER chapters in Minnesota have chosen to work on an issue close to our hearts. Far too many of our members are dealing with the residual effects of attending under-resourced K-12 schools. As Whose Diversity? and other campus organizations have demonstrated, college students can and must advocate for themselves.

We do not pretend to be addressing the source of education inequity — but we do argue that students who faced insurmountable odds to attend college should have every chance to succeed once they get there.

By supporting bill SF 352 it is time to stand with students from across the state who have been systemically denied degrees.